On the morning after, what are your reactions to the wild-card game Tuesday evening? (I notice one of our regulars, in the Comments section, is celebrating the 6-2 loss by the Brooklyn Dodgers' old tormentors.)
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"Red Sox-Yankees: As good as it gets."
I heard myself – steadfast Brooklyn/ Mets/National League fan – uttering those words when the Red Sox and Yankees wound up in Tuesday’s wild-card game.
It really is baseball’s classic matchup -- between two teams that have never been mine.
I’m old enough to remember being at Jones Beach, middle of last century, and hearing stereophonic portable radios blaring Joe DiMaggio drubbing Ted Williams, over and over again, an endless summer of Mel Allen, blaring from blanket to blanket.
When I became a sportswriter, I rooted (unofficially, of course) for the underdog Red Sox but there was always a Bucky Dent or an Aaron Boone.
I have never been a Red Sox fan, per se, but I loved the city of Boston from my first trip there in 1962, and I used to think maybe someday we’d live there.
And Fenway Park – the wall, the deep right-field stands, the skyline, the immediacy of that great city.
A ball park, a city, worth rooting for.
I was rooting for the Red Sox on Oct. 5, 1978, when the two historic teams met in a one-game playoff.
We had driven our oldest child to visit a college in the Northeast, and while she and my wife were taking a tour, I sat in the car and listened to Russell Earl Dent morph into Bucky Freaking Dent.
Who doesn’t remember those autumnal mood swings that baseball does so well?
This past week has aggravated the angst for aging fans of the Boys of Summer.
We remember Oct. 3, 1951, when Bobby Thomson of the New York Giants drilled a home run into the left-field stands of the Polo Grounds and into collective memory of Brooklyn Dodger fans.
I remember coming home from junior high and hearing the terrible deed—and wandered outside to pick a fight with a much larger Yankee fan in the neighborhood. A friend asks: why fight Bluto? That was the point. Being a Brooklyn Dodger fan was masochistic, by definition.
My pal Jerry Rosenthal was a Brooklyn kid. When Thomson smote Ralph Branca, Jerry recalls, he cried for two days. (When Jerry played ball in the minors, his hitting coach was Pafko-at-the-Wall. They talked lovingly about Brooklyn.)
Talk about memory. George Hirsch, one of the founders of the New York City Marathon, wrote about his memories – how he and some buddies came down from suburban New Rochelle to watch the game. Hirsch wrote about it for the New York Times last Sunday, and he also appeared on CBS Saturday morning:
The Dodgers and Giants formed the great baseball rivalry, but that was then, in a different New York. Those two teams moved to California and broke a lot of hearts, including mine.
To be sure, they remained rivals. I was in the press box in Candlestick Park in 1965, when Juan Marichal clubbed John Roseboro over the head at home plate – as ugly as it gets.
Then there's this: the Yankees and Red Sox never left town. Gotta give them that.
In 2004, the Yankees drubbed the Sox, 19-8, for a third straight victory in the AL series. I will never forget being in that tiny Red Sox clubhouse and hearing Johnny Damon say (and I am writing from recall): “If I am not mistaken, we won four straight games eight times this season.”
His point was: they could do it again. And they did, beating the Yankees four straight and then the Cardinals four straight in the World Series for their first championship since Babe Ruth and 1918.
The Red Sox’ four straight victories over the Yankees in 2004 is now part of their rivalry – payback, as good as it gets.
There, I said it again.
10/4/2021 09:36:04 pm
Kind words from a true legend.
10/5/2021 12:16:00 pm
Hi, George: Nah, you and the Road Runners are the legend...and built a legend. One of my favorite photos is me in the open pace car with Fred Lebow in 81 or 82. Love that event. You all gave that glorious day/week to NYC. Well done. GV
10/5/2021 09:47:12 am
Mr. Hirsch, my compliments!
10/5/2021 12:22:48 pm
Andy: there is probably a New York book about baseball fans growing up in the wrong borough. Joe Torre was a Giant fan in Brooklyn, playing at the Parade Grounds. Vic Ziegel was a Giants fan in the Bronx, I lived in Queens and felt connected to Ebbets Field by the Inta-boro Parkway, as we called it.
10/5/2021 10:57:13 am
George: I’m very excited about this game. I think it will be like a Super Bowl in emotion, without the big money of the NFL, of course. The photo of Johnny Damon can be a positive signal to both teams: he was in 2004 as a Boston player in the first World Series after Bambino. Damon was also in 2009 as a Yankee player on the latest championship to NY. What does it mean? Nothing. Or maybe very much.
10/5/2021 12:25:59 pm
Altenir: all your trips to NYC (from Brazil) and your skill in English have given you a true New Yorker's sense of irony and ambiguity.
10/5/2021 01:48:36 pm
George: I really appreciate it. You know how much I love this city. On the night’s game, the winner will have one big problem: Tampa Bay Rays.
10/5/2021 11:12:50 am
I have e been a Yankee fan since 1939 at age four. I was in bed with scarlet fever, which required complete bed rest and as little physical movement as possible.
10/5/2021 12:30:44 pm
Alan: The Yankees always had a surprising star -- Gerry Coleman in one of those Red Sox games, Bob Kuzava and Billy Martin vs. my Dodgers. Brian Doyle against LA Dodgers in 1978. We always muttered about "Yankee luck." GV
10/5/2021 03:22:39 pm
I don't know about "Yankee luck", but they always seemed to make a late season move that would help seal the pennant.
10/5/2021 04:03:58 pm
Alan: Johnny Hopp, Ewell Blackwell, a few more.
10/6/2021 12:11:12 am
AFTER GROWING UP AS A BROOKLYN DODGER FAN, AND COUNTLESS DISPOINTMENTS UNTIL 1955, A YANKEE LOSS IS A GREAT PLEASURE. DAM YANKEES, LIVES AGAIN!
10/6/2021 07:05:48 am
Ed and George,
10/6/2021 12:12:11 pm
10/6/2021 01:09:50 pm
As a lifelong Cardinals fan, I admire the enduring tenacity and emotion of the Yanks/Red Sox rivalry. Cards/Cubs, in my experience, tends to be a rivalry more seated on the North Side rather than the Gateway City, with the exception of the 2014-18 chapter. I found myself alternatively rooting for the Yankees and Red Sox last night until A Rod's gnawing commentary ultimately landing in the winning side's camp. Here's hoping the Cardinals can master the Dodgers and the formidable Max Scherzer today.
10/6/2021 11:37:19 pm
Tom; nice to see your name. I got
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“I don’t think people understand how Covid affects older Americans,” Mr. Caretti said with frustration. “In 2020, there was this all-in-this-together vibe, and it’s been annihilated. People just need to care about other people, man. That’s my soapbox.”
---Vic Caretti, 47, whose father recently died of Covid at 85.
---From an article by Paula Span, who covers old age for the NYT, which currently has 2646 comments, the majority criticizing the American public – and public officials – for acting as if the pandemic is “over.”
Classic wishful thinking, at a lethal level.